With summer here, and the influx of both wild and planted harvestables gaining momentum, I am taking pause to compare season’s past with now.  Aside from what we’ve chosen for our garden, my typical food foraging generally takes place on my own property, harvesting native wild blackberries, volunteer plums, and miner’s lettuce and wild arugula for supple spring salads.  We’re also fortunate to have access to some prime mushroom hunting, and usually pull in a few pounds of porcini and chanterelles each year.

But this year is weird. Read more

To those of us that forage for wild mushrooms, morels easily are the most enigmatic. Far and away, morels (Morchella species) draw more people into the woods than any other mushroom. In fact, a large percentage of morel hunters will retire their mushroom baskets for the year once the last morel has fired its spores and withered. Read more

Each year, between November and February, slowly and intently, hachiya persimmon altars begin to take root in my North Oakland apartment. They form on my kitchen window sill; on my bedroom dresser; on my dining room table; on my office desk. I fall into the familiar habit of always having one or two persimmons in my bag in case, in the course of the day’s travels, I meet a neighbor to whom I’d like to bestow a persimmon. Read more

Imagine gathering several friends for morning, midday, evening or weekend foraged city bicycle rides through your neighborhood. Rough maps are drawn, noting the forage-ables that can be found at each location and ‘cold calls’ are made to your neighbors asking if you can sample a fruit from their backyard tree. You have the courage to introduce yourself (despite the pervasiveness and acceptance of urban anomie) and they reward your neighborliness with a sample of Santa Rosa plums, for example. Later, when you find yourself with a surplus of Persian mulberries, you, in turn, deliver a small basket to said neighbor. With time and in this fashion, a community of people who care for and know one another is built, and rather than being the exception, this could be the norm.

This is not idealistic, rather it is necessary, pragmatic, and creative — especially in times when much of the world is suffering from lack of access to healthful and satisfying fresh food. Forage Oakland is a project that works to construct a new model, and is one of many neighborhood projects that will eventually create a network of local resources that address the need and desire for neighborhoods to be more self-sustaining in meeting their food needs. At its core, it works to address how we eat everyday, and how everyone can benefit from viewing their neighborhood as a veritable edible map, considering what is cultivated in any given neighborhood and why, and what histories influence those choices. The gleaning of unharvested fruits; the meeting of new neighbors; the joy of the season’s first hachiya persimmon (straight from your neighbor’s backyard, no less); the gathering and redistribution of fruits that would otherwise be wasted — can be powerful and can work to create a new paradigm around how we presently think about food in our collective consciousness. Read more

The underground restaurant scene has been gaining ground, so to speak, and while I’ve been hearing about many iterations of secret eateries all over the country (and the world), I had yet to check one out for myself until last week, when I bought two tickets to attend Wild Kitchen—an underground supper put on by San Francisco upstart ForageSF. Read more

It is with much anticipation that wild morel season is approaching for much of North America. The Upper Midwest and Northeast boast some of the largest yields of these highly prized wild mushrooms. Even larger numbers are collected from the mountainous areas of the West. In fact, in the western mountains, you will find the commercial collectors out in force this spring, following the paths of last season’s fires which will spawn a huge crop of a particular type of morel that fruits after burns. Read more

Right about now, the forests of North America are starting to come alive. Two-legged creatures, not sighted in the woods since around this time last year, can be spotted moving about in a stealthy fashion or crouching…on the lookout…for quarry of a fungal sort. And with good reason! Many folks who are too busy to set foot in a woodland at any other time of the year are right now heading out into the wilds of North America to pursue the prized morel mushrooms. Read more

In this time of watching our wallets, our good intentions about eating sustainable food could easily descend into bad habits, cutting corners and disenchantment about the food system.  Instead, I’d like to offer a few ways I’ve been eating good, clean and fair on a reasonable budget: Read more